Periods: What Is Normal And What Is Definitely Not
Pain, mood swings, and more!
As girls, there is probably a moment where all of us have had our period, or a period symptom and gone "Is this normal?" While most symptoms, if tolerable, are normal, a lot of them are not. Getting a few pimples before a period, having cramps so bad you can't work, or wanting to rip everyones head off just for saying hi. These are just a few symptoms us ladies deal with, and it's time to find out if they're normal or not.
While of course you should talk with your doctor first, this list can be a relief if you've been suffering from some of these symptoms and find out they are completely normal. Your hormones go absolutely crazy before your menstrual cycle, as your body is getting ready to help you get pregnant. And when it's not, that's when your period shows up. So if any of these symptoms sound like you may be pregnant instead of getting your period, don't worry.
Normal: Mood Swings
While mood swings are a sign of PMS, they also come with the change in hormones. If you're in a bad mood and don't know why, and want to scream at everyone that talks to you, you're most likely getting your period. Changes in your hormone levels can increase irritability, anxiousness, sadness, and feelings of loneliness. Again, it's best to check with your doctor to make sure it's not PMS or PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), but mood swings here and there while you're getting your period is totally normal. Blame it on the hormones!
Not Normal: Excruciating Cramps
Yes, cramps in general are normal - the ones where you can take an Advil or two and they go away. If you have cramps so bad that you throw up, you can't work, or can hardly walk, then something is off. Endometriosis is a condition some women deal with, and once you can put a name to the issue, then you can start dealing with it correctly. Excruciating cramps are something you really should talk to your doctor about, as they are definitely not normal.
Normal: Cramps That Go Away
Cramps that go away with a heating pad, Advil or get better after the first day are normal. Cramps are cause by prostaglandins which is a chemical a women's body produces that makes your uterus contract. It is normal to get cramps that you can live with, still do things with, and that don't interfere with your daily life.
Not Normal: PMS or PMDD
Every woman gets tender breasts, bloating, and feels a little off before their period. That's usually how they know they're getting it soon. However, if these symptoms effect your daily life, and are so bad that you don't feel like yourself, that's PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome). PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) is a sometimes disabling disorder that is an extension of PMS. With PMDD, you can feel depression, anxiety, anger, and hopelessness before you start your period. While both are hard to deal with, they can be treated by a few options. Exercise, birth control, meditation, and anti-depressants are just some of the ways to cope.
Normal: Getting Your Period Every 28 - 35 Days
People think that irregular periods happen if you don't get it exactly 28 days apart, but that's really not true. While some women are on the clock, every 28 days Aunt Flo shows up, some women go beyond that and always have. Periods can be anywhere from 2 to 7 days, and that's normal as well. If you have usually had a 'regular' period, and have been getting later and later, talk to your doctor as your hormones may be off.
Not Normal: Irregular Periods Or Missing Periods
With pregnancy out of the question, if you miss a period and have not before or keep missing periods, it's definitely time to speak to your doctor to find out what's going on. Tracking your period is so important, even if you get it every 28 days on the dot. Irregular periods or missing periods could mean you're underweight, over-exercising, experiencing stress and anxiety, or sudden life changes.
Another thing we can blame on hormones. Bloating is due to water retention before/during your period, which is why it can feel like you've gained 5 pounds overnight. Even though it's annoying that your favourite pants are way tighter, eating a balanced diet and drinking a ton of water can actually help with the bloating. With the rise of hormones, you also start craving foods that are sweet and salty which can attribute to the bloating as well.
Not Normal: A Heavy Flow
If you're changing your pad or tampon several times a day not just to be safe but because you have to, that's probably not normal. You should change it max 5 times a day, and that's even too much. You could have fibroids on your uterus, which can worsen bleeding throughout your period. These usually go away during menopause, so if you can deal with it until then, you're good to go. But if the heavy flow is ruining your daily life for a week, it's best to talk to your doctor about your options.
Okay, getting a full face of pimples before your period is not normal. However, a few blemishes before Aunt Flo arrives is totally normal. 63% of women actually get pimples before their period and distinguish that with their period coming. These annoying pimples show up around 7 to 10 days before your period does. Since your progesterone rises before your period, that causes your skin to swell and your pores to shut. While this really can't be prevented, sticking with your skincare routine will make them go away as soon as your period arrives.
Not Normal: Extreme Tiredness
It is definitely normal to feel a little more tired before your period, but if you can hardly get out of bed, could fall asleep at your desk, or feel weak before your period, you could have low iron. While taking iron supplements can usually help this fatigue, B-12 is also great mixed with iron as it gives you a ton of natural energy. Try your best to rest before your period comes if you are that tired, but speaking with your doctor and/or getting a blood test to see your iron levels is the best way to go about things.